ECW legend and WWE Hall of Famer Bully Ray has compared the connection AEW has with its fanbase to that of ECW in its heyday of the late nineties.
AEW is coming off a banner week that has seen CM Punk compete in a wrestling ring for the first time in seven years. As well as Ruby Soho, Adam Cole, and Bryan Danielson make their shocking debuts for the company at All Out.
Speaking on an episode of Sean Waltman’sPro Wrestling 4 Life podcast, Bully Ray – who some fans will know better as Bubba Ray Dudley – has discussed the gulf between AEW and WWE in the directions that both companies seem to be headed in:
“I think these companies are going in two completely different directions. One company is a traditional pro-wrestling company. The other one is very much, week by week becoming more and more, sports entertainment. AEW is as close to competition as WWE has had in forever. We’ve already seen a little skirmish and how it ended up.”
Bully Ray then discussed how Tony Khan is taking things from history that have worked and is repackaging them in a way that is gaining enthusiasm from wrestling fans. He also adds that Khan’s experience as a wrestling fan in the ECW Arena is helping shape the decisions he makes as AEW President now:
“AEW has the energy and the enthusiasm of the pro-wrestling fanbase because they are giving fans everything that these fans feel that they are not getting from the WWE. When you look back in history and you go ‘Okay this worked, and this worked, and this worked. Why don’t we just try to repackage it and do it again? What I’m seeing is Tony Khan and AEW have looked back and said ‘Okay, this worked in ECW, this worked in the Attitude Era, this worked in WCW. I’m gonna put it all together in a big bowl, call it AEW and I’m gonna pour it out there for the wrestling fans to enjoy.’”
“Tony was a huge fan! I mean, as a 12-year-old kid, he’s sitting in the third row of the ECW Arena. He got to experience a real wrestling revolution live. His eyes saw it, his ears heard it… being a fan all his life. Knowing what worked and what didn’t work.”